Once upon a time there was a country with rich history which I relate to the fairy tales from One Thousand and One nights. Located in the Middle East, today the territory is known as Iran. The photos from the trip of Seb will bring us back in time to Ancient Persia and will inspire us for new travel adventures.
Located next to the Persian Gulf, Iran has very hot summer when the temperature can reach 50° C. The best time to visit the country is during the spring (April – May) and in the autumn (September – October). Several airline companies are offering flights to Tehran with one or two connecting flights. I recommend you to contact a local tour operator who will help you organize your trip and will assist with the visa issuing.
Your trip will begin from the northern part of Iran, arriving in the capital city Tehran (with population of 14 million people). You can book a room with a view to Elbrus Mountain at nice 4* hotel. You need to bring enough cash in Euro or USD, which you will exchange there because banking services are limited and your credit and debit cards will be out of service. A dinner in Tehran for 4 people costs in average USD 40, without alcohol because it is forbidden in the country. The local Christians are allowed to drink alcohol at home but not to sell it outside.
The country was known as Persia until 1935, when Reza Shah, the local leader, changed its name to Iran. On the local language Farsi it means great nation. The Persians managed to keep their identity and language despite the attempts of the Arabs to force them accept the Arabic language. Only 3% of the local people are Arabic. The majority, more than 50% are Persians and there are big groups of Armenians and Jews.
The name of the Iranian language comes from the Fars region where the two alphabets got united. Although the local people disagreed to the policy of their religion leaders, they honoured and respected them. That’s why their photos are still present on the buildings.
Being in an Islamic country, female tourists should cover their hair and be properly dressed with longer vests covering their hips. The northern part of Tehran is the more modern one where local women use scarves as fashion accessories, covering only part of their hair. Locals use also Chador, which looks like a longer veil. This is a garment, put on the head covering the clothing. You can see such in the more conservative areas. In Iran there is a moral police which is seldom present and performing any activity.
The locals respect women, you feel safe, in the metro men let women take their seats and in Tehran there are separate metro wagons only for women. In the evenings streets are buzzing with activity and it is safe to go on a walk.
In some parts of Iran people are kind of lazier, they get up later, have lunch around 14:00 and dinner around 21:00 – 22:00. You can order lamb or chicken kebab. If you wish, you can get hot spices in addition. The kebab can be either of minced meat or of pieces of lamb or chicken meat. You can order yoghurt salad with mint leaves inside, it is very refreshing. For dessert you can try Shirazi Paloodeh, it is sticky ice-cream, made of starch. Inside you will find noodles of rice starch. Smoking is forbidden on public sites. It is allowed only in restaurants or bars, located underground not to attract attention.
While you go on a walk in the markets in Tehran, you can try dry fruits (dates, figs) or other local fruits. They, however, do not meet our taste because they are often held in salty syrup. I recommend to you to try the fresh pomegranate juice and buy for home some sweet sour syrup of pomegranate. You can put either in salads or in other meals.
On the local markets you will find a variety of local spices, and among them the most expensive spice in the world: saffron at an affordable price.
Iran is one of the countries producing rose oil, as well as rose water. In most shops you can find rose water. Another symbol of the country are the Persian carpets. In 2010 the traditional skills of carpet weaving in Fars and Kashan were listed in the UNESCO cultural heritage list.
In Iran there are 2 vehicle factories but the French car brands are also well spread. Try to figure out how many brands you find on the photo below.
The satellite dishes are prohibited in the country so that foreign TV channels cannot be broadcasted but almost every household is violating that regulation.
In the cities it is messy but the streets are clean. Due to the country’s isolation the cuisine is not that diverse and it is not affected by food trends of foreign cultures. At the same time local people are liberal, open-minded and are not shown in their true selves to the rest of the world.
The day is ending with a beautiful sunset in Tehran and tomorrow the road will bring us to Isfahan, the old capital and the most beautiful city in Iran.
Shab bekheir = good night 🙂
To be continued…
You can order the full photo book from this journey here.